Police meeting residents where they are

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is receiving feedback from more than 100 local residents per day as it embarks on a series of community “clinics” around Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands this week. 

Police Sgt. Robert Nodding said the new-style public meetings officers have been holding in front of public areas like supermarkets and hospitals have been a good opportunity for RCIPS officers to meet with the public, even if the discussions aren’t always about crime. 

“Some people at the hospital wanted to tell us about their illnesses,” Mr. Nodding said. “But the response is much better, we’re getting to meet a lot more people.” 

Police decided to host the clinics around the islands this week after a round of public meetings in the districts earlier this year were poorly attended. 

“People just didn’t want to leave their homes at night [to go to police meetings],” Mr. Nodding said. 

In response, RCIPS neighborhood officers decided to put themselves out in public. “We … come to the community, rather than ask the community to come to us,” said RCIPS Acting Superintendent Angelique Howell. 

As a result of the police clinics, the RCIPS has received more than 100 survey responses per day from questionnaires they are distributing on location or at local police stations. 

The 13-question survey asks general questions and does not seek to obtain more specific information from individuals other than the neighborhood in which they live. Respondents are not asked to give their names, addresses or phone numbers. 

Questions asked include: Is safety in your neighborhood changing? What crimes most affect your community? Who commits these crimes? Why do some people fail to commit crimes? 

Superintendent Howell said the clinics will hopefully “ensure early identification and treatment of emerging community ailments to reduce community impact.” 

The effort is also aimed at improving the RCIPS’s public image. 

Most respondents to a survey done by the police that was released in March said the RCIPS does not do a good job at reducing and preventing crime. Even after crimes are committed, most respondents said police do a “poor” or “very poor” job at keeping victims apprised of the status of a case. 

Respondents to the survey said frontline officers need to get out of their cars and engage more with community members. 

Resident Fleur Coleman speaks with RCIPS constable Sharon Baillie outside Kirk Market in George Town Wednesday. – Photo: Brent Fuller